Norway 2050: An Image
EDITORIAL, 19 May 2014
In Oslo, 200 Years after the 17 May 1814 Independence Constitution
And why did that happen? The Treaty of Kiel 14 January 1814 between UK-Sweden of the anti-French Sixth Coalition and Denmark-Norway allied to Napoléon made Copenhagen cede Norway to Sweden.
And why did that happen? Because Russia with unspeakable suffering had won the 1812 war with Napoléon–that winner of battles and loser of wars; Waterloo 18 June 1815 was still far away. All described in one of the best books ever written, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1869); written, it has been said, as if Life were the author.
Norwegians used the time after the Treaty well for independence with a Constitution, before Sweden invaded and Norway capitulated: the Convention of Moss 14 August 1814. No Sweden-Norway under Stockholm, only a joint king and foreign policy, both Swedish; dissolved in 1905.
And how was the gratitude expressed to Russia and Russians?
Nothing; only the same paranoid fear of the big neighbor, never forgiving Russia for having been attacked by the Vikings, now more than a thousand years ago, presumably plotting the revenge ever since.
And this happened again: in 1944 the Red Army was in hot pursuit of the Nazi army through Russia, Finland into Norway, till the army was stopped, not by the Germans but by the Norwegian government in exile in London. They tried to persuade the UK and the USA to do the job–but they had their hands more than full on the continent of Europe–giving the Germans the time needed to burn off all of Northern Norway.
Gratitude? More paranoia building Norwegian foreign policy on the fear of Russians coming, “når russera kommer” in Labor Party talk, subservient to USA-NATO, and US hatred of competitors. What a shame!
Thanks Russia, with good and bad suffering and fighting such West European monsters as Napoleon and Hitler. Thanks, and thanks again.
Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture should accompany Norway’s anthem.
In Norwegian deep culture there seems to be a world map: East is evil, starting with Sweden, getting ever worse into Yellow Peril; South is mixed, getting worse into Africa; West is good starting with England, getting ever better into our Great Ally; North is best, us, Nor-Way, owners of Spitsbergen, the Arctic cap, the North Pole, all underneath, threatened by an over-extended evil Russian sector.
Add another hypothesis: clinging to values rather than facts, being on the side of the good against evil regardless of facts. So, never criticize USA lest they might not come “når russera kommer“.
The distribution of Nobel peace prizes mirrors the map perfectly.
And thus it will continue–deep culture consensus changes, but slowly. But sooner or later a good relation to Russia with its incredibly rich culture will emerge; letting facts not moralism speak.
But thus it is that Norwegian elite consensus “above the parties” (another name for deep culture) build insecurity, exposing the country to Afghan and Libyan revenge for our siding with the “good”, bypassing a defense treaty with Russia and joining the budding Eurasia; being a security bridge, a peace nation by facts, not by propaganda.
Quite important because of two major factors threatening internal security, Norway standing by, watching the country dissolving in front of our eyes. Two major contradictions: between ranking as No. 1 on Quality of Life indicators, yet having a high and increasing loneliness and not only at old age; and between having a country but increasingly letting others do the work. How come?
Because interaction nets dissolve. Extended families disappeared long time ago; in the nuclear family maybe 50% divorce, maybe more parents-children and among siblings; small neighborhoods are absorbed like small municipalities in bigger-the plan being from 423 to 100. And the whole country is absorbed into the European Economic Space EES, meaning EU without membership. NGOs are too single-valued, not broadly human.
Add to this Swedes doing very well much of the work at the top and Muslims at the bottom; the Norwegians increasingly being declared unfit for work, suffering from this or that–from 2% in 1962 to 10% in 2012 (Aftenposten, 13 March 2014). Not only does this hit the younger under 30 more and more, but the tendency is inherited: one parent declared unfit, so also a child. There are those who say that whereas the official unemployment is low, 3%, the real–adding unfit and others non-working–is 20%. Add drugs, and we get the movie OSLO.
Norway is oil rich and can pour money on the social flames, into old age homes and services and hospitals (Spain cannot, but has well-functioning families and local communities to fall back upon, hiding 50% youth unemployment and widespread poverty with growth rates).
There may be a common factor behind the three insecurities: low ability to solve conflict. For that, knowledge of reality facts is needed, like what the parties want–not only identifying good vs evil–and creativity to propose and build a new reality, with new facts. Like siding with both old superpowers, like learning in kindergarten and school how to develop positive relations with everybody, like expanding the number of municipalities to 4,000, 1250 on the average, small enough for people to care for each other, like learning how to solve conflicts (not easy when programmed to side with one against the other guided by a stupid world map inscribed on the collective mind).
So, what is the prognosis for Norway 2050? Some trends will continue: the West down and the Rest up, Islam up and Christianity-secularism down (empty churches) because Islam offers togetherness and sharing to isolated humans, states down–except the biggest–and regions up, absorbing the smaller with means of communication-transportation. But the Map, and the Moralism do not yield easily.
To make these predictions self-denying, Norway needs a Cultural Revolution to join reality. May all good forces unite.
Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.
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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 May 2014.
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